The brands writers write with

November 12, 2013

As a writer and speaker, I live and breathe words, both figuratively and literally. Engaging others with words is what I love to do. To accomplish effective communication, I need proper tools of the trade. I need writing implements, hardware and software, and the training to properly construct the most relevant word combinations, which are all dependent on my target audience.

I've spent two decades of my life testing out pens, notebooks, software, hardware, books, worksheets, workshops, tips, tricks, cheats, hacks, and various other endeavors to find my writing voice and the best balance of word efficiency and effectiveness dependent on what piece I'm compiling at any given time.

This has led me on an adventure down various paths, finding what feels like hundreds of writing implement brands, from the tried and true #2 pencils from Ticonderoga, or the more permanent equivalent-the Bic pen. I've gone from the sci-fi-esque Fisher bullet space pen, to the now impractical nib pen with inkwell. My pockets have carried a lot of Pilot Varsity fountain pens, and I've dabbled with Prismacolor's premier fine line markers. I'll happily buy a pack of Pentel's Techniclick II in preparation for classes, or for when I need to outline some quick and dirty notes for an article or story scene. And then there are the Sharpie pens with the fine felt tip for regular writing-just so long as you don’t press too hard, or the nib part will bend awkwardly and you have to start writing at an angle after that.

Each implement has its own style and feel and usage depending on what I'm writing at the time and where I happen to be. Some work better on different papers. Some are better for work compared to hobby sketching or note taking. Some take a beating better than others while traveling or for just tossing in your bag or purse rather than leaving on a desk. All pens are not created equal. If they were, there wouldn’t be so many brands available. That’s why the cup holding my writing implements has a dozen brands or so in there, to ensure I have the right tool for each piece I work on.

I keep leaning towards the sturdier pens and pencils, designed with more technical purposes in mind. I need a writing implement that can take a beating; my writing comes when and where I squeeze it into my day, usually on the go or in-between obligations and meetings. There's no time to fuss about with leaking pens or snapped lead. I'm all about the brands that embody: You have a story to write? Use me to write it, right here, right now.

Paper brands and writing software options are just as diverse as pens and pencils. There’s a difference between scrap, copy, and resume papers. Some writers need lined or grid marked paper, while others prefer blank sheets. Writing software ranges from covering all distractions to focusing on niche formats, to offering every bell and whistle conceivable. It all boils down to what you personally need at the time. It’s not always going to be the same for every time you write. Hence why having some level of diversity amongst your options is encouraged.

I've been writing since the fourth grade, using marbled composition notebooks, to wire bound college ruled notebooks (left-side and top-side bound), to Moleskines, to Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, Google Drive, Evernote, and dozens of other software programs at one time or another. Some are more simplistic, to prevent distractions, while others provide all the bells, whistles, and accoutrements to style your piece as you please. Some are platform specific, while others span all current operating systems.

At this point, the cross-platform, cloud-synching brands provide the right level of breadth and depth for me. I can write where I am, on whatever device I'm on, when my schedule allows. When I'm ready to work on a piece again, it'll be there, synched across my accounts. The brand promise that is key here: Write what you want, when you want, where you want. Well, as long as there's a Wi-Fi or cell signal so background cloud synching occurs accordingly.

I know I don't speak for every writer, merely for myself. We’re all entitled to our personal preferences, but I’ll bet that most writers agree with me that these software, hardware, and service brands should continue the overarching promise of: Write what you will, where and when you will; we'll be here to help you along the way.

What commoditized brands do you prefer and feel loyal to, whether it’s writing-focused or otherwise?

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